Arsenal vs Tottenham: Spurs host north London rivals with Champions League qualification at stake

Tottenham host Arsenal live on Sky Sports this Thursday with Champions League qualification at stake – but how do the teams’ current styles and form compare ahead of the blockbuster clash?

The Gunners currently reside in the top four on 66 points – four clear of their north London rivals with three games left to play, so Mikel Arteta’s side could secure a top-four finish with three points at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium.

But how do the teams compare tactically and what can we expect when the teams clash in front of the Sky cameras?

What’s the style?
Antonio Conte has had more than six months as Tottenham head coach since replacing Nuno Espirito Santo last year and has implemented his customary three-at-the-back starting formation in 24 of his 25 league games at the helm.

Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta has primarily deployed a 4-2-3-1 system this term, but has also experimented with a 4-4-1-1 and 4-1-4-1, while lining up in a 5-4-1 on one occasion against Manchester City back in August.

As the graphic below shows, Spurs tend to sit deeper and depend on the three forwards and wing-backs to counter, while the Gunners build higher up the pitch – leaving only the goalkeeper and centre-backs averaging in their own half.

Both sides tend to attack most frequently and pose the greatest threat down their respective right flanks, primarily via Dejan Kulusevski and Buyao Saka for the home and away sides, respectively.

Spurs defender Eric Dier and Arsenal counterpart Gabriel travel farther with the ball at their feet than any other players, but Heung-Min Son and Saka make notable inroads farther up the pitch.

Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg and Gabriel are the teams’ respective pass-masters, but expect Martin Odegaard and Granit Xhaka to dominate possession in the middle third.

Attacks analysed
If a top-four berth was awarded for goals scored, then Spurs would make the cut with their 60 goals to date ranking fourth in the Premier League – four more than their upcoming visitors – but Arteta’s side should have outscored their hosts this term, according to expected-goal data.

The Gunners have also fired 108 more attempts at goal than Spurs this season and narrowly edge their rivals for shots on target, while both teams frequently muster fast breaks – a tactic Spurs have frequently executed with devastating effect under Conte.

The goal maps below reveal Arsenal are more potent inside the six-yard box and along a band ranging from the penalty spot to the left-of-centre area, while Spurs are dangerous centrally just outside the six-yard area, close to the D and on either side of the box.

Son has hit a purple patch of form of late, racking up 11 goal involvements in his past seven league outings, extending his league tally to 20 goals and now sits only two shy of Mohamed Salah in the race for the Golden Boot – despite xG estimating his expected returns should be merely 13.

Arsenal have shared goals around the squad this term with their well-documented lack of a regular and prolific striker, but Eddie Nketiah has been firing on all cylinders since earning a regular starting berth up top, while Saka and Emile Smith Rowe have netted 11 and 10 league goals, respectively.

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